The Exorcist is a terrifying horror film (and possibly the genre’s greatest ever movie). But there’s one fact from the shoot that’s more chilling than anything else…
The Exorcist is scary. Very, very scary. But it harbours a sinister truth that is more chilling than its supernatural tale.
We’ve ranked William Friedkin’s masterpiece amongst the scariest films ever made for good reason. But when you thought it was scary enough – given that it is actually based on a true story – it takes on an even more sinister persona when we consider it features an actor who would go a killing spree in the late 1970s.
Yes, evidently, Linda Blair endures fictional evil in The Exorcist while coming very close to the real life embodiment of it too.
Paul Bateson, who played a radiologist’s assistant in the film, would later go on to kill and dismember a number of men who were targeted because of their sexuality.
Bateson, at the time of Friedkin shooting The Exorcist, was working at New York University Medical Center as an X-ray technician. He, like others at the medical centre, were invited to take part in the scenes that show Regan undergoing a carotid angiography procedure because the director felt real life physicians would add authenticity to the sequence.
Bateson’s killing spree – eventually referred to as the “Bag Murders” – would only come to an end after the body of film critic Addison Verrill was found in a New York apartment, beaten and stabbed to death. That led the police to Bateson who had gone home with Verrill having met him in a New York bar popular with gay men.
When news of the arrest came to light, Friedkin recognised him from a newspaper article and organised an interview with the killer in prison. He asked Bateson if he committed all the murders. Bateson confessed to the only one he remembered – Verrill. The experience inspired Friedkin to make his 1980 film Cruising with Al Pacino about a cop investigating a serial killer targeting homosexual men.
Bateson didn’t confess to the other murders but police believe he was responsible for several bodies washing up on the shores of the Hudson River. If you thought The Exorcist was frightening, consider the fact Bateson has been a free man since 2004!
Some other creepy horror movie facts that’ll chill you to the bone.
Poltergeist (Hooper, 1982)
We’ve heard about films having curses but for Poltergeist there seemed to be something very odd at play. Four of the cast died within six years of the film’s release, one of those being Poltergeist’s young star Heather O’Rourke.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Apparently the cast and crew kept waking at 3am during filming. That was the time of the real life murders. Spooky.
The Conjuring (2013)
Vera Farmiga claims to have experienced plenty of real life paranormal activity during the film of The Conjuring. She says she witnessed fingerprints on her computer screen appear when researching the character. Later, these fingerprints were replicated on her thigh!